Thomas Baur: "Are FEI Rules Only 'Guidelines' Now?"

Wed, 02/22/2023 - 08:08
Don't miss a hoofbeat :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Guest columnist of this week is German Thomas Baur, show director of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington as well as at numerous CDI's in the U.S.A. and Europe. He is the former vice chair of the International (Equestrian) Event Organizers Association (IEOA) and was a member of the FEI Dressage Committee as the show organizer's representative. He is currently a member of the European Equestrian Federation's Dressage Working Group.

Are FEI Rules Only "Guidelines" Now?

It appears that the FEI rules at CDI competitions are not always being enforced. In the past few months, there have been some pretty strange incidents at several different CDI’s. 

The FEI does not seem to be paying attention to a level field of play as their rules and draft schedules can now be interpreted as a guideline instead of a rule to follow?

Let me be clear, none of these are the rider's fault, but the FEI and their representatives at the competitions who are responsible for this liberal (or non-) application of the existing rules.

Here are a few examples of incidents that I have noted at CDI’s:

  • Riders have been allowed to compete on 3 different GP horses in the same class when the schedule states that only 2 are allowed
  • Judges who considered allowing a horse/rider combination to compete in a Grand Prix Freestyle when the combination had not obtained a prior qualifying score (60% in the GP as per the FEI Dressage rules at the time).
  • Horse/rider combinations have been allowed to compete in a Western European League CDI-W with no minimum entry requirement which is accordance with the current FEI Dressage Rules 2023 
  • A correctly filed protest by a National Federation did not get accepted at a CDI. When questioned why not, the FEI representative at this particular show told the NF that they would lose anyway. 
  • Appeals are not dealt with in a timely manner. The FEI needs to answer them in time for a combination to be eligible to compete. 
  • Sometimes the FEI changes the rules after a qualification period has already started, and often without announcing it publicly.

In conclusion, the FEI needs to be held more accountable and ensure that officials enforce current rules at FEI competitions.

In addition the FEI must realize that rule changes that come into effect on January 1 each year, impact the World Cup season which begins in the preceding year. Notably, the new 65% minimum entry requirement for CDI-W’s in the Western European League, that are earned by a horse rider combination, is not consistent for all competitors. In 2022 there was no minimum requirement. This is only one example of inconsistency with the FEI rules, and only the ones that I have noticed. Perhaps there are even more?

- by Thomas Baur

Related Links
Thomas Baur: "Does the FEI Dressage Committee Sit in an Ivory Tower?"
Thomas Baur Resigns as EO Vice Chair, No Confidence in New FEI Dressage Committee